Every year on July 4th our nation celebrates the anniversary of its independence in 1776. This year marks the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by delegates to the Continental Congress. Although we mark our independence as a nation from this date, American colonists had been at war with the British since 1775, and would not win final victory until 1782. A formal peace treaty, signed in 1783, ended the war and established the United States of America as a sovereign nation.
While most of us know the general history of our nation’s founding, we have in recent years been led to believe that our founding fathers were only marginally religious, and that they intended the government of this new nation to be free of any religious influence. Even a cursory reading of the Declaration of Independence, the speeches and letters of the founders, and the written opinions of early members of the Supreme Court shows that this is not true. The founders were devoutly religious, and more importantly, they were decidedly Christian in their religious views. Many a founder made public statements of the need for the nation to be led by “Divine Providence,” an 18th and 19th century term that referred to the God of the Bible. However, flawed their particular denominational beliefs may have been, one thing is certain. The founders understood and believed that a nation can only prosper if it submits itself to the God of the Bible. (A five-part video series entitled, “The Silencing of God,” presented by Dr. Dave Miller, traces the Christian roots of our nation through the founding documents of our nation, and the speeches and letters of the founders. It is available for viewing on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2DH_zlM1Z0)
This, of course, is a fundamental biblical truth. In Prov. 14:34 Solomon said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” The history of the nations that populated the promised land, and of Israel after the conquest, bears out this truth. Before Moses died he reminded the people of Israel that God was removing the pagan nations from the promised land because of their wickedness. In Deut. 9:5 Moses said, “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Moses went on to warn Israel that if they lived in obedience to God’s commands, He would bless them more abundantly than they could imagine (Deut. 28:1-14). But, if they failed to live in obedience to His commands, God would strike them with multiple curses and drive them from the land (Deut. 28:15-68). When we read Israel’s history we discover this it went exactly as Moses had warned them. When they obeyed God, they prospered, reaching the height of their glory under David and Solomon. However, when they turned away from God’s law He brought curses upon them. The ten northern tribes went into captivity about 721 B.C. and never returned. The southern tribes went into captivity for seventy years in Babylon, beginning about 605 B.C., and returned only when they turned their hearts back to God.
The lesson for us today should be obvious. If we want our nation to be blessed by God and to prosper, we must return to Him in obedience to His will. The founders of our nation understood this and actively worked to incorporate basic Christian principles into the fiber of American life. Unfortunately, many of our current leaders not only do not want us to be bound by Christian principles, they are determined to promote the open practice of the kind of behaviors that caused God to drive the pagan nations from the promised land. May we as a nation turn back to God before it is too late, for “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”